Smithfield Foods, a U.S.-based pork processor owned by China’s WH Group Ltd., has been hit with a lawsuit for failing to adequately protect workers at a pork plant in Missouri during the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers at the Milan plant claim they have been forced to work “shoulder to shoulder” without adequate protective equipment.
Smithfield is also accused of refusing to give workers time to wash their hands for several hours, they can’t even cover their mouths to sneeze, and discouraging sick workers from taking time off.
The lawsuit claims workers were disciplined after covering their mouths to cough or sneeze because it could cause them to skip pieces of meat coming down the line.
“Put simply, workers, their family members, and many others who live in Milan and in the broader community may die — all because Smithfield refused to change its practices in the face of this pandemic,” according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs argue that Smithfield is putting profits over public safety by failing to take necessary measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak in the Missouri pork plant from spreading to the entire community.